Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 6: Examination and Diagnosis

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HealthWiki > Where There Is No Dentist > Chapter 6: Examination and Diagnosis


Whenever you do an examination, remember to examine the mouth.

a health worker thinking while examining a child's mouth.
Are the teeth healthy?
Are the gums healthy?
Are there any sores?
When you look inside someone's mouth, ask yourself these questions.

You can prevent much suffering and serious sickness when you notice and treat problems early. Whenever you hold a health clinic, try to find out how healthy each person’s mouth is.

Ask if she is having a problem now, or has had a problem recently.

Always write down what you find out, so you remember what treatment that person needs.

  1. Are the teeth healthy? Look for:
    DENT Ch6 Page 73-2.png
    DENT Ch6 Page 73-3.png
    1. A New
    Tooth
    Tell the person what is happening and how to keep the skin around a new tooth healthy.
    DENT Ch6 Page 73-4.png
    2. Black
    Spots
    They may be cavities which should be filled when they are still small.
    DENT Ch6 Page 73-5.png
    3. A Loose
    Tooth
    Tell the person what is happening and how to prevent a loose tooth from getting worse or affecting other teeth.
    DENT Ch6 Page 73-6.png
    4. A Dark
    Tooth
    A tooth that is dark is dead and infection from its root can go into the bone. This can make a sore on the gums.
  2. Are the gums healthy?
    Look at and compare the pictures of healthy and unhealthy gums.
    Unhealthy gums often are red and they bleed when you touch them.
    A bubble on the gums below the tooth is a clear sign that the person has an abscess. The abscess may be from the tooth, or it may be from the gums. To decide, look carefully at both the tooth and the gum around it.
    DENT Ch6 Page 74-1.png
    A bubble beside a healthy tooth is a sign of infected gums. Scale the tooth carefully. See Chapter 8.
    A bubble beside a decayed tooth is a sign of a tooth abscess.
    A sore on the gums from a badly decayed tooth appears when a gum bubble breaks open and lets out the pus from inside. GUM BUBBLE
  3. Are there any sores?
    Look for sores under the smooth skin on the inside of the lips and cheeks. Look also under the tongue and along its sides.
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1. A sore on the gums may be from an infected tooth. 2. Sores on the inside of the lip or cheek may be from a virus. 3. Sores on the lips or tongue may be cancer.


After your examination, tell the person what you have found. If you notice a problem starting, explain what to do to prevent it from getting worse. If there are no problems and the mouth is healthy, congratulate the person.

Share your knowledge — explain things to people. Help them learn how they can prevent and even manage their own problems with their teeth.



This page was updated:19 Feb 2018